In this Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 photo, a customer sniffs a display sample of marijuana, in a tamper-proof container secured with a cable, sold at Evergreen Cannabis, a marijuana retail shop, in Vancouver, B.C. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Cannabis could help those struggling with PTSD, B.C. study finds

Canada has one of the highest rates of PTSD worldwide at 9.2 per cent.

Using cannabis could help people who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, a B.C. study has found.

The study, a partnership between the B.C. Centre on Substance Use and the University of B.C., found that having PTSD was strongly associated with suffering a major depressive period and suicidal ideation among people who did not use cannabis. The link was not present in those who did use cannabis.

The data, published Tuesday in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, is the first of its kind, said lead author and BCCSU research associate Stephanie Lake.

The key, she said, was being able to use Statistics Canada data rather than waiting for clinical trials to finish up.

“There’s really been a rise in the number of Canadians who were using cannabis for PTSD,” Lake said. “We’ve seen a lot of patient reports of success with PTSD and cannabis, but we’ve yet to see a clinical study.”

The researchers used data related to the cannabis use and mental health of 24,000 people, and drew conclusions about how the drug interacts with the disorder. The information is particularly relevant in Canada, which has one of the highest rates of PTSD worldwide at 9.2 per cent of the population.

Of the 24,089 people in the study, 420 had a current PTSD diagnosis. Of those, 106 people, or 28.2 per cent, reported using cannabis in the past year, compared to 11.2 per cent of those who did not have PTSD.

Non-users with PTSD were seven times more likely to have a major depressive episode and nearly five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, compared with users of cannabis.

Lake, who is also a PhD student at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, said the research was too broad to discern why cannabis had the effect it did, but it did point to what use was most helpful for PTSD.

“We saw that compared to non-users, lower risk [cannabis] users were at a reduced likelihood of major depressive episodes and suicidal ideation, but higher risk users were at a higher chance,” she said. Higher-risk users show signs of cannabis use disorder, which is a compulsive use of pot and an inability to stop.

M-J Milloy, a professor of cannabis science at UBC, said the findings open up further avenues to study cannabis.

“One of the important results of the study is it really supports our plans to move forward with clinical trials,” he said.

“There’s clearly lots of patients self-medicating with cannabis, but there’s a real gap with our clinical knowledge.”

Milloy said legalization and regulation would help narrow what kinds of cannabis work best for PTSD, because patients and researchers would be assured of the strain and the THC or CBD content.

“We know that many people believe certain strains of cannabis work better, [while] some people want to use cannabis edibles, or prefer high CBD,” he said.

“As scientists, we want figure out if these preferences are real so we can optimize them for PTSD treatment.”

READ MORE: Canadian study links teenage pot use to increased risk of suicidal behaviour

READ MORE: B.C. company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Slow melt at high elevations near Revelstoke this spring

At one location on Mt. Fidelity there is double the usual snowpack for early July

Summerland Ornamental Gardens remain closed

Staff and volunteers continue to weed and maintain plants

Canada’s deficit result of investing in Canadians: Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier said the government is working on the next steps as the economy restarts

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Okanagan sisters-in-law sleep out successful

Kiley Routley and Heidi Routley raise nearly $2,400 and awareness for youth homelessness

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Most Read